Random Tech Questions you want answered.

What's the web browser landscape look like on Windows these days? I just built a fresh system and figure this is a good time to look around. I was using Chrome but wasn't really using any of the Google ecosystem.

Vargen wrote:

What's the web browser landscape look like on Windows these days? I just built a fresh system and figure this is a good time to look around. I was using Chrome but wasn't really using any of the Google ecosystem.

Everyone should be using Firefox, period, amen.

Letting browsers fall into the control of the corporations that track people for advertising was a colossal mistake.

Letting browsers fall into the control of the corporations that track people for advertising was a colossal mistake.

There is a knock at your door...

Yes, Firefox is the way to go. Put uBlock Origin on with it, and maybe Privacy Badger, and you have everything you need.

If you like the idea of vertical tabs you can organize hierarchically, also check out the Tree Style Tab extension.

Related to Privacy Badger, the EFF also puts out HTTPS Everywhere although it's possible that extension might be redundant now for Firefox. I haven't looked into it too deeply yet.

Yeah, HTTPS Everywhere is now discontinued. They happily declared that HTTPS was finally everywhere and that their project had completed its purpose.

Interesting! I didn't know it was discontinued (that's mentioned here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTPS_...). Funny that it's still available on the extensions page though. I imagine it'll probably go away at some point--especially if it's not being updated.

I think that Firefox's HTTPS-Only Mode replaces it now. Here's that mode explained:

https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb...

Have to enable it manually in the settings though.

Any suggestions for syncing bookmarks between Firefox and Chrome? I’ve been debating moving away from Chrome forever but I’m not ready for a full switch so don’t want just a one time migration. Maybe it’s time I finally load all my bookmarks into something like Raindrop and stop using browser bookmarks? How’s Firefox’s cross computer syncing these days?

Yeah Chrome and my phone and work PC and home PC and I can pull up tabs, history, etc. from each other. It's just damned convenient. If Firefox can do that, and if their Android performance doesn't suck like it used to... ?

Honestly that's why I stopped using it and switched to Chrome about a decade ago because of the Android performance.

Firefox does that fine, just have to login when you first install it so it can sync your account.

I use Firefox exclusively on Android. It even supports uBlock Origin. Youtube without ads is a wonderful thing.

*Legion* wrote:

Yeah, HTTPS Everywhere is now discontinued. They happily declared that HTTPS was finally everywhere and that their project had completed its purpose.

Should I remove the extension than, as it might cause security issues in the long term when no longer maintained?

LeapingGnome wrote:

Firefox does that fine, just have to login when you first install it so it can sync your account.

I second this. If you create a Firefox account and log into a new device, it will port all bookmarks and extensions. Only language settings (language packs, very important for a Belgian) and preferred search engine need to be reconfigured (default is Google as Mozilla still receives funds from them).

Huh. So Firefox is the fast browser now? It feels like Firefox is the fast browser now. I haven't done a proper comparison on this hardware though. I guess the bits that track you have to wait for the network, even with fancy new gaming hardware.

Kind of like how GWJ is pretty much the fastest website I visit regularly thanks to the lack of ads and stuff.

dejanzie wrote:

Should I remove the extension than, as it might cause security issues in the long term when no longer maintained?

Yes, you should remove it. Security issues seem fairly unlikely, but there's no point keeping it installed.

I realised today that what I was missing was a multimeter to measure voltage. What’s a good cheap brand for occasional use? Recommendations for a specific one also good? It’s going to spend 90% of its life in a drawer.

I went with an Amprobe, forget which model, but the Amprobes came up fairly often when I was searching for good budget multimeters.

DoveBrown wrote:

I realised today that what I was missing was a multimeter to measure voltage. What’s a good cheap brand for occasional use? Recommendations for a specific one also good? It’s going to spend 90% of its life in a drawer.

Harbor Freight sells one for $6.99. Occasionally they give it away for free. If you have one nearby, it's kind of sh*t, but it does work, and you can't really beat the price. I use it occasionally to test batteries or electrical outlets. And just to be clear, I have a better one I got from when I worked in cable that I use for anything I feel I need a more accurate measurement on, but this guy is smaller and lighter so it actually gets used more often.

Anybody got any recommendations for an adjustable desk-mounted tablet stand?

I'm thinking something with an arm or gooseneck or something adjustable like that. Primary use case is holding a small dry erase board for notes and a to-do list so it won't get lost on the desk, but I'd also use it for holding an actual iPad for video calls and photographing stuff on my desk. It looks like there are a lot of options at a lot of price points and I'm not sure where to start looking.

You might also look into adjustable monitor arms and a VESA-mounting tray, like this one.

We have used this one for years for holding an iPad in the kitchen for recipes and it works great.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00X8...

Has anyone seen a good source of analysis/reviews of which tablets/phones/etc are very low latency for game streaming?

I have some devices with very wide variation in how well they stream. iPhone? Pretty good but the screen is too small. Fire tablet? Terrible latency but the screen is nice and big?. Video decoding and wifi performance difference between them seems likely?

I've heard the Steam Deck is really nice for game streaming because it's video decode performance is very low latency. Haven't received mine so no personal experience yet but for me that is one the main use cases of that device. Streaming from my more powerful PC and consoles to the hand held with built in controllers and big enough screen so really easy to pick up and play. I use game pass and plan to both stream from xCloud and stream game pass games that are installed on my PC.

I expect as game streaming becomes more and more mainstream device performance will get more attention but so far I haven't found anyone digging deep into it.

A couple years ago I spent a bit of time streaming Skyrim to my iPad Pro, with a Steam Controller connected to it via Bluetooth. It worked pretty darn well, but Skyrim isn't exactly the most demanding game as far as latency goes. If I have time I'll try firing up Hollow Knight or something and see how it holds up. That's kind of a pricey solution for streaming. Maybe not though... my iPad Pro is a few years old, and I think the base model iPad has caught up to it in power.

The Steam Deck is likely to be the best performing handheld streaming client for the money, especially when you consider it already has a good controller built-in. I don't have any experience with the device; I just expect that Valve would prioritize making that work well.

LeapingGnome wrote:

We have used this one for years for holding an iPad in the kitchen for recipes and it works great.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00X8...

Hmm... that one doesn't support my big iPad, but it looks like they have a newer model that does. I'll have to check it out. Thank you!

They also advertise it working with "NES." There's a decent chance that my old NES is still kicking around my parents' basement. If I can find it I'll have to give that a try. (Yes I know all the pictures show a Switch but I'm still amused.)

*Legion* wrote:

I went with an Amprobe, forget which model, but the Amprobes came up fairly often when I was searching for good budget multimeters.

Late to the party, but I love my trusty AM-510. It's $45 currently on Amazon.

What's a good tool for testing a SSD?

My computer lost track of my SATA SSD yesterday. It's a secondary drive that I mainly used to move a bunch of Battle.net and Steam games over from my old computer. I was poking at Diablo 3 and stepped away to deal with the baby. When I got back the game had crashed with an error saying the files were corrupted and could not be repaired. But what really happened is the drive the files were on straight-up disappeared. Explorer didn't see it. My Steam library was missing everything on that drive. I rebooted and the UEFI saw the drive, and when I got back into Windows everything was back.

Does this look like a failing drive or something else going wrong? A cursory Google search reveals a whole bunch of symptoms, but not "the OS loses the entire drive."

How old is your motherboard? How old is your SSD? What type of connection? Any overheating problems? Loose connections to the drive? Is your power supply ancient?

Brand new. About 4 years old. SATA. Don't think so but I haven't checked lately. That's on the list to check as soon as I can prevent "assistance" from the toddler. Older than most of the components in this machine but not ancient.

Four years old... Well, for example, the current 850 EVO has a 5 year or 300TB written warranty. So an older SSD... Maybe four years is getting long in the tooth?

The other thing, and perhaps more likely, is that power supplies age out after about 5 years of use. When they do, weird things happen to your system, and some of them can be permanently damaging. So I would consider swapping out the power supply, and also consider grabbing a new SSD to move your data to sometime in the next few months.

Those are my thoughts.

Vargen wrote:

What's a good tool for testing a SSD?

I recommend spinrite: https://www.grc.com/spinrite.htm

It was originally meant for harddrives, but it's been found to be effective in diagnosing SSDs.

Many of the SSD vendors have apps that test and report drive health. I use the Samsung Magician app occasionally to make sure my system drive is still humming along. It also reports basic info on the other drives I have attached.

I want an inexpensive wireless mouse. This is for my work laptop, so no huge DPI nonsense is required - just something functional. I had an Amazon Basics die on me, followed by some random Chinese brand I've never heard of die on me. I'm currently using a Bluetooth mouse I had lying around, but it has a habit of disconnecting at least twice a day, and needs to be turned off & on again to start working. It's driving me up the wall.

I just want something good and cheap. No Amazon Basics. Preferably not a no-name Chinese brand. Anyone have any recommendations?